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Delhi HC slams CBI for not filing reply in case involving Rakesh Asthana

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Rakesh Asthana

New Delhi, Oct 29: The Delhi High Court on Monday slammed the Central Bureau of Investigation for failing to file a reply on its Special Director Rakesh Asthana’s plea seeking quashing of an FIR against him.

Justice Najmi Waziri extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Asthana till November 1 and said that the October 23 order to maintain status quo in the case will be continued till the next date fixed for hearing.

The court’s direction came on Asthana’s plea seeking extension of the status quo order and to issue direction to CBI not to take coercive steps against Asthana.

The court pulled up the CBI for not filing responses on Asthana and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devender Kumar’s pleas seeking quashing of FIRs.

Seeking more time to file its response, the CBI told the court that the team probing the case against Asthana had been changed.

The court said: “Has the institution come to a standstill? You (CBI) will file reply on or before October 31 otherwise your officers will be called.”

The court was hearing pleas from Asthana and Kumar, who said that cases were registered against them in an illegal manner with a mala fide intention.

Kumar was arrested last week for fabricating documents in the bribery allegations case against Asthana. Meat exporter Moin Qureshi, who is facing multiple cases of money laundering and corruption, had paid a bribe to get a case against him settled, the agency said.

According to the CBI, Kumar fabricated the statement of Sana Sathish, a witness in the Qureshi case, showing he recorded the statement on September 26 in Delhi. However, investigation revealed that Sana was not in Delhi on that day. He was in Hyderabad and joined the investigation only on October 1.

Kumar’s arrest came a day after the CBI registered an FIR against Asthana, Kumar and two others. The CBI has alleged that bribes were taken at least five times between December 2017 and October 2018.

Asthana, a 1984-batch Indian Police Service officer of the Gujarat cadre, is accused of accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore from a businessman who was being investigated in the Qureshi case in order to “wreck” the investigation. The case was being examined by a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Asthana.

In a dramatic post-midnight action, the government on October 24 divested CBI chief Alok Verma of his charge and made Joint Director M. Nageshwar Rao the interim director. Asthana was also divested of all his supervisory responsibilities.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) took the decision after Verma and Asthana accused each other of taking bribes.

IANS

India

S Jaishankar To Begin 6-Day Tour Of Bahrain, UAE And Seychelles

The external affairs minister will also hold talks on bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest with Bahraini leaders.

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will embark on a six-day tour of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Seychelles beginning today, in a visit seen as important as it comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Jaishankar’s first destination will be Bahrain from where he will travel to the United Arab Emirates. He will travel to Seychelles in the third and final leg of his visit.

In his two-day visit to Bahrain from November 24 to 25, Jaishankar will personally convey condolences on behalf of the government and people of India to the Bahraini leadership on the sad demise of Prime Minister of Bahrain Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa on November 11, the MEA said.

The external affairs minister will also hold talks on bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest with Bahraini leaders.

“Bahrain hosts more than 350,000 Indians and both countries have worked together to face the Covid-19 pandemic. Flights are operational between both countries under an air bubble arrangement,” it said in a statement.

On November 25 and 26, Jaishankar will visit the UAE where he is scheduled to meet his counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“Both leaders will take forward the excellent cooperation between India and the UAE under our comprehensive strategic partnership and exchange views on various regional and international issues,” the MEA said.

Jaishankar will also discuss ways for Indian workers to resume their jobs in UAE in the post-COVID scenario. More than 3 million Indians live and work in the UAE.

India and UAE have maintained high-level contacts in the last few months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the midst of the pandemic.

Jaishankar has also spoken to the UAE foreign minister several times in the past few months.

In the last leg of his tour, the external affairs minister will travel to Seychelles on November 27 and 28.

In Seychelles, Jaishankar will call-on the newly elected President, Wavel Ramkalawan, to present greetings of Prime Minister Modi and will discuss with him the priorities of the new government and avenues for further strengthening of bilateral relations, the MEA said.

Jaishankar will also hold bilateral consultations with the newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde, it said.

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Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Day: J-K Lt Governor Pays Tribute To Sikh Guru

Manoj Sinha noted that the pious day is a reminder to respect and uphold the ‘faith, belief and rights of people’.

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Manoj Sinha

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha paid rich tributes to Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, on his martyrdom day on Tuesday.

“The teachings and martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur underline one of the most fundamental principles of human existence, which is ensuring the right of everyone to breathe free and live unshackled,” Sinha said.

Guru Teg Bahadur’s sacrifice is an important reminder for the future generations to be committed towards upholding the faith, belief and rights of people, he added.

On this pious day, everyone must resolve to dedicate themselves to selfless service of others, the LG said.

“Peaceful co-existence, mutual respect for each other’s religious beliefs go a long way in uplifting individual lives and achieving harmony and compassion in the society,” he added.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was born on April 1, 1621. He resisted forced conversions of Hindus, Sikhs, Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslims to Islam and was killed on this day in 1675 on the orders of the then Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.

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One Crore Frontline Healthcare Workers To Receive Covid-19 Vaccine In First Leg

Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which four are in Phase II/III and one is in Phase-I/II trials.

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An estimated one crore frontline health workers will receive the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine whenever it becomes available, with around 92 per cent of government hospitals and 55 per cent of private hospitals across all states and UTs providing data identifying the workers, official sources said.

Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which four are in Phase II/III and one is in Phase-I/II trials.

States have been asked to accelerate the process of identifying frontline healthcare workers including doctors, MBBS students, nurses and ASHA workers etc, so that the exercise gets completed in another one week.

It has asked states to do planning and mapping of vaccination sessions where healthcare workers will be vaccinated during the 1st phase and mapping human resources across departments that could be deployed for vaccination sessions for verification of beneficiaries, crowd management and overall coordination.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with chief ministers and other representatives of states and union territories via video conferencing on Tuesday to discuss the vaccine distribution strategy, sources said.

“Around 92 per cent of all government hospitals and 55 per cent of all private hospitals from across all states and UTs have provided data. The rest of the details will come in another one week. We have asked the states to accelerate the process,” an official source said.

The anti-coronavirus vaccine, once available, would be distributed under a special Covid-19 inoculation programme, using the processes, technology and network of the existing Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). It would run parallel to the UIP.

The Centre, with the help of state and UT governments, has started the process of identifying around 30 crore priority beneficiaries who would be given vaccine dose in the initial phase, sources had said.

The government has demarcated four categories which include around 1 crore healthcare professionals including doctors, MBBS students, nurses and ASHA workers etc, around two crore frontline workers including municipal corporation workers, personnel of the police and armed forces, about 26 crore people aged above 50 and a special category of those below 50 with co-morbidities and requiring specialised care.

Health Ministry’s existing digital platform eVIN which is being used for the UIP is being enhanced for the Covid-19 vaccine distribution and delivery, through which SMSs would be sent to recipients informing the time, date and venue to get the shots and digitally connect them and also track them, sources had earlier said.

Each person in the immunisation list would be linked with their Aadhar cards to avoid duplication and to track beneficiaries. However, in case a person doesn’t have an Aadhar card, a government photo identity can be used, the sources said.

Five vaccines are under different phases of clinical trials in India with the Serum Institute of India conducting phase-3 trial of the Oxford-Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine while the indigenously developed Bharat Biotech and ICMR vaccine has already started the phase III clinical trial.

Indigenously developed vaccine by Zydus Cadila has completed phase -2 clinical trial in the country.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories will soon start combined phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V in India.Biological E. Ltd has started early phase 1 and 2 human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said that a Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be available by the first quarter of 2021.

He had said that the Centre estimates to receive and utilise 40-50 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine covering around 25 crore people by July next year.

“The prioritisation of groups for Covid-19 vaccine shall be based on two key considerations — occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality,” he had said.

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